The Coastguard has urged beachgoers to not use inflatables in the ocean after a man was rescued hundreds of metres from the shore on a blow-up unicorn.
Rescue teams rushed out to sea off the coast of Hayling Island in Hampshire after the man got into difficulty while cooling off from the sweltering temperatures and was swept 400 metres from land.
The man drifted into the path of ferries at the entrance of Portsmouth Harbour, putting his life at risk while he waited to be rescued.
📟2/7/18 Tasked to a person blown over 400m from shore into one of the busiest waterways in the world on an inflatable unicorn luckily a passing kayaker assisted until gosport ILB recovered the casualty safely to shore. Inflatables are not suitable on the coast. #999Coastguard pic.twitter.com/PCO63i9mhh
— Hillhead Coastguard Rescue Team (@hillheadcg) July 2, 2018
The Hayling Coastguard Rescue Team, Portsmouth and Hayling RNLI lifeboats and a coastguard rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent were all brought in to help the man to safety.
The incident was just one of 15 separate rescues involving inflatable on Tuesday evening across the south coast.
Others involved an inflatable flamingo and dinghy.
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The Coastguard has now warned people to take extra care when cooling off in the sea during the heatwave – and to leave the inflatables on the shore.
HM Coastguard duty controller Piers Stanbury said: ‘We’ve had to waste RNLI and Coastguard volunteers’ time to ensure that abandoned inflatables did not have anyone at risk associated with them.
We are hoping to deliver a safety message later with @samfmnews @BBCSouthNews @itvmeridian after more than 15 people rescued on inflatables which are for swimming pools. If you see anyone in danger on the coast call 999 for coastguard immediately pic.twitter.com/9BudviHhQw
— Hillhead Coastguard Rescue Team (@hillheadcg) July 3, 2018
‘We can’t stress enough that these inflatables are not suitable for use in the sea. Tide conditions, the wind, any changes in the weather can just take them out beyond safe depths.
‘Please, don’t use them, don’t take them to the seaside. Inflatables really should only be used in swimming pools, not at the coast where they can quickly go from being fun to being potentially deadly.’